A sexual assault happened on the University of British Columbia’s Point Grey campus last night and RCMP believe it may be connected to a recent string of “late-night prowler events.”
It happened at approximately 10 p.m. in the 3200-block of Wesbrook Mall in UBC’s South Campus residential neighbourhood. A 20-year-old female was walking alone when she was grabbed from behind by a man who emerged from the woods.
The suspect shoved the woman to the ground and began rubbing against her back. The woman suffered minor bruising, but was able to fight off the suspect, who then fled the scene.
RCMP say the suspect’s description matches that of a voyeur seen recently in women’s residences on campus. Five times since March 23, a male has been reported lurking in shower and residential rooms in Vanier Place and Totem Park, generally home to first-year students. In all five incidents, the man fled when he was seen and no sexual offence occurred.
The University Detachment RCMP is working with campus security to investigate.
The suspect is described as 5’10”, “darker skinned” and in his mid-to-late 20s with a slender build. He was seen wearing dark clothing, possibly with a dark hoodie, and smelled of tobacco.
Sources tell Global News there is a person of interest in the case, not a UBC student, but a known sexual predator
Anyone with information that could help police with their investigation is asked to call UBC RCMP at 604-224-1322 or Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.
WATCH: As UBC RCMP investigates the violent sexual assault of a female student, the university says more security measures will soon be in place – including more cameras.
More surveillance coming to UBC?
Investigators say the latest incidents do not appear connected to six sexual assaults on campus in 2013.
No arrest was ever made, but a UBC report recommended the use of more security cameras.
But there are still none at the residence entrances at Vanier Place and Totem Park, and people could be seen entering open buildings throughout the weekend.
“There are papers on the board saying don’t let strangers to our home, but apparently it’s not doing the job,” said Houman Noorbaksh, a tutor who was at Vanier Park on Sunday to help a student, and was surprised to see open doors to buildings.
Officials are installing cameras on forty new emergency phones being installed around campus, but they won’t all be working until mid-April. And UBC administrators say they have improved lighting and landscaping.
The university has historically opted against 24/7 surveillance at residences out of concern for student privacy – but Campus Security Director Barry Eccleton hinted that would be reassessed.
“There’s always this balance between privacy and safety, but given these events, we might be looking at that a little differently,” he said.